Transarterial chemoembolization versus supportive therapy in the palliative treatment of unresectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

Clin Radiol. 2011 Apr;66(4):322-8. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2010.11.002. Epub 2011 Jan 8.


Aim: To evaluate the clinical outcome and the survival benefits of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) for unresectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) compared with supportive therapy.

Materials and methods: From January 1996 to April 2009, a total of 155 patients with unresectable ICC met the entry criteria and underwent TACE (72 patients) or supportive treatment (83 patients). Their survival was the primary end point.

Results: The baseline patients and tumour characteristics were well-balanced in the two groups. The median number of sessions per patient was 2.5 (range 1-17 sessions) in the TACE group. After TACE, the incidence of significant (≥ grade 3) haematological and non-haematological toxicities was 13 and 24%, respectively, and no patients died within 30 days following TACE. The objective tumour regression (≥ partial response) was achieved in 23% of the patients in the TACE group. The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that the survival period was significantly longer in the TACE group (median 12.2 months) than in the symptomatic treatment (median 3.3 months) group (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: TACE is safe and offers greater survival benefits than supportive treatment for the palliative treatment of unresectable ICC.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / therapy
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome